The ECHO: Day 2 (Pg 5)



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...it feels more like a strange hybrid of military fortress and country estate than a municipal building. But perhaps that was the intention. City Hall looms over Victoria Square the way a king presides over his court. Everything and everyone entering or leaving Acheron would have passed through this square, under the watchful eye of city leaders. Despite this, Victoria Square is warm and inviting, and it is easy to see how it became the center of life in Acheron.


It's that life that is missing today. I felt it as soon as I arrived. Travel brochures flaunt picturesque scenes of smiling tourists and al fresco diners laughing in the sun while locals pass by on crowded sidewalks, but today the square is empty. Patio tables are stacked tightly against buildings. Souvenir stands that brave the coldest winter days are noticeably absent, and the narrow streets are entirely devoid of traffic.


It feels like I'm in that old Twilight Zone episode where the man wakes up and everyone is missing, except I know exactly how I got here and why I came. Hours ago this area had been filled to capacity with protesters demanding children be released from D.S.F. custody.


Today's stillness only emphasizes the life and emotion that oozed from my tv screen last night. The righteous anger of those families and the collective power they held were just as intimidating as the stone structures surround them - until the sound of gun shots sent them scattering into the night. Where have those people gone, and will they return?

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[Image : At the bottom of the image, we see the narrator's hands. He is holding a travel brochure for Victoria Square that shows lively pictures of the market, horse drawn historical tours and festive outdoor dining. Above the brochure we see the west end of Victoria Square from the narrator's point of view. We are standing on the sidewalk with the empty square to our left. To the right is a restaurant. It is the same restaurant pictured in the brochure, but the tables are lined up next to the building, the chairs are folded and stacked and all of the umbrella's are down. The restaurant is open, but there are no customers in sight. The same can be said for the rest of the square. Neat and tidy buildings are open for business, but the sidewalks, streets and store fronts remain empty.

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